In the final sketch of the evening, what started as an interview of former Art Attack presenter Neil Buchanan, escalates with very little warning into an interpretative dance/performance art piece by Helena Jacques-Morton, accompanied by a curry house-themed parody of Rupert Holmes Escape (changing the words Piña Colada to Tikka Masala) by a cappella troupe and surprise musical guests the Accidentals.
That in itself should tell one all they need to know about the sketch show put together by St Andrews’ improvised comedy group, Blind Mirth. With the spectre of another Monday morning looming large, audiences (well, mainly this reviewer) sought out the solace of the Byre main stage late on Sunday, the 3rd of April, with high hopes of hiding in hospitable hilarity, and my god did this approximately 70 minute escapade of puns, pop culture references, and patent absurdity deliver.
The writing was up to the high standard that is now somewhat expected from Blind Mirth’s annul foray into sketch comedy. The evening started off strong with ‘June 1940’, where a Second World War voiceover recording session is interrupted by an apathetic café employee trying to locate the owner of a ham and cheese Panini. In addition to fulfilling the British obligation of including at least one reference to the Nazis (‘don’t mention the war’), the sketch cleverly set up a the premise for the recurring appearance of the same café employee later on in the show, in increasingly unexpected places, like a mildly peeved service industry whack-a-mole.
The show achieved great success with recurring sketches, and with identifying promising premises in general. There were also golden one-liners hidden within bits, including my personal favourite, where a timid Liam Mitchell responded to Ed Fry’s rant about being made redundant by sentient sheets with the line “I know. I used to work as a sail”.
Performances from the troupe, by and large, matched the quality of the writing. They carried off their parts with aplomb, though certain members did seem to struggle to match the energy and delivery of their peers. Nevertheless, the tremendous chemistry forged in the fires of improvisation proved to be a worthy match to the challenge at hand, and kept the laughter rolling in.
Credit also goes to the technical team for helping ensure the show’s consistent flow. Though lighting, sound and projections were kept relatively simply and mainly used to set up new scenes, they were deployed to great effect in the fantastically meta fourth wall breaking sketch ‘Robert Garrick & Sons Ltd’. This did beg the question of whether the show could have gained by doing more with tech cues. But that was only a very quiet question, which went away soon after appearing.
All in all, The Smirths proved to be a fantastic evening’s entertainment. A well-written, well-performed and well-paced hour or so of sketch proved to be the perfect remedy to the realisation that it’s going to be week nine, and the mini-breakdown on the unstoppable march of time which that thought brings on. It was an entertaining, if temporary, escape away from reality. In other words, it was perfect.